This is definitely game changer.

More and more people are using Gmail and G Suite for some or all of their work-related email. Of all the benefits of using Gmail, the one that I appreciate most is being able to access emails on my iPhone without them hogging up all of my storage. It is also extremely easy to switch between multiple Gmail accounts. But it’s not Gmail that has been a game changer for me. I’m referring to an extension for Gmail. But first, a little bit more about me and Gmail.

When I initially stopped using Apple Mail on my phone, I continued to keep getting my Gmail through Apple Mail on my desktop. I liked that I could see all of my email accounts in one central location. But then one day, I realized that Apple Mail was saving my Gmails (even after they were deleted) deep, deep in the bowels of my computer. Sucking my storage dry.

There was no setting that could prevent it. There was also no way to easily see what email that any given file was connected to, making it very difficult to pick and choose what to delete even manually. It became obvious that I would simply have to stop using Apple Mail for my Gmail accounts.

So for years now, I have been accessing my various Gmail accounts in the native Gmail app. But the one thing that has continued to drive me nuts is how Gmail orders conversation threads. Why, oh why, does Google put the most recent email at the bottom?

Maybe you’re good with that. Maybe you even prefer the oldest email in the thread to be the one you see first. But it annoyed me.

I dealt with it though. I even forgave Google when I finally figured out that the reason my email filter wasn’t working was because I had to put OR between the addresses instead of the typical comma.

As I ran through another endless email thread today, I found myself once again lamenting the backwards order of it. But then, something magical happened. I took a minute to look and see if I could find anything new about ways to reverse the order of Gmail conversations. And guess what? I found one!

There it was. A beautiful extension called Gmail reverse conversation that not only reverses the order of messages in your Gmail conversations putting the most recent one up at the top, it also moves the Reply and Forward buttons to the top as well! It is truly one of the most helpful extensions I’ve downloaded and I can already tell you it is a game changer for me.

If you use Gmail and have ever wondered why you were being forced to scroll, and scroll, and scroll to the bottom of a message to see the latest reply in a thread, get this extension. You will wonder how you lived without it. Trust me.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

You can’t deny the growing popularity of adding motion in website design. From parallax scrolling effects to CSS and JavaScript, we are told that animations will draw attention to your site, engage visitors, and effectively manipulate where they look and what they do. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Motion and animation has its place but here is my plea to web designers everywhere. Please stop. Or at least, stop and think for a minute first. Ask yourself a few questions.

Is animation a crime of opportunity?

What is the animation doing to benefit the user? How will it improve their experience? If it doesn’t improve UX or UI, you should consider how it might actually be hurting it. I know you want your site to stand out. I know you want to wow your audience. Unfortunately, in today’s web design world, subtlety is apparently dead – or at least it’s dying. And how many designers even consider the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines when determining how much motion and animation to add?

Is the animation in line with your brand personality? Adding some splashy new animation that you think looks cool might not be the best reason to update your website. Brand consistency is a key element in connecting with your audience. So ask yourself what the purpose of the animation is. Will it add much needed energy or playfulness to your site and your brand? Does it signal an event or a status? Is it helping with navigation?

If you are determined to add movement and animation to your website, start small and know when to stop. Make sure your choices have a purpose and that they accurately reflect your brand. You might also first consider micro-interactions as a more subtle way of adding motion. Whatever you decide to do, have a good reason for doing it. Change for change’s sake alone can confuse your audience and ultimately damage the trust you have built with them.

What you really need is better marketing.

If you’ve ever thought your business wasn’t doing enough marketing, think again. Maybe what you need is not more marketing, but better marketing.

So what is “better” marketing?

“Better” marketing is consistent and focused; it’s not about quantity, but quality. If you want to create and build lasting relationships with customers, you might need to start doing things differently.

Keep it simple, stupid.

There are a million ways to market your business today but I encourage you to resist the urge to use every tool in the toolbox.

As you can probably guess, I am a big fan of problem-solving principles like KISS (keep it simple, stupid) and Occam’s razor. I really do believe that simpler solutions are the way to go.

There are a million ways to market your business today but I encourage you to resist the urge to use every tool in the toolbox. When you spread your efforts out too thinly, you may find yourself with no time left to listen and respond to your customers. Don’t do something just because you think you have to.

Remember, less is more.

Simple doesn’t mean easy, but it is more rewarding.

Being selective with your marketing and doing it well is not necessarily going to be easy though. With so many options, you may suffer from a bit of analysis paralysis. That’s understandable and I wish I had an answer for you, but I don’t.

Every business, every person, every situation is different. So you have to become personally invested in your marketing. When you do, it shows. People notice. It does make a difference.

Take the time to figure out what’s right for you.

And keep trying.

Just don’t try everything all at once.

The human side of business.

I look back and see it’s been well over a year since I have posted anything. I can’t help but wonder if I should just delete this whole blog. But I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to admit that I am human. In a world increasingly being taken over by artificial intelligence, isn’t nice to know that there are still a few imperfect beings out there?

Even robots make mistakes.

But aren’t we all flawed in some way? No one is perfect. And that is the human side of business. And no matter how automated our world becomes, there will always be a human side. Heck, as long as they’re being programmed by people, even robots can and will make mistakes.

So I am staying true to my own personal brand and story by embracing my imperfections.

And I encourage you to do the same.

How to stop a Quicktime screen recording.

Have you ever started a Quicktime screen recording and the control panel disappears? Then, when it comes time to stop the recording you’re left wondering how in the heck to stop it short of pressing Escape to bring the control panel back up? Well, I have.

Here are two easy ways to stop a Quicktime screen recording:

  1. When the control panel disappears, a stop button appears in your upper menu bar (see image below). All you have to do is click it and your recording stops.
  2. You can also use the keyboard shortcut: Command + Control + Escape.

If you really just want that control panel to show up again, simply press Escape.

QT-StopButton-LessIsMore

Less Is More… Especially after brain surgery.

Less Is More Blog

It’s been a while since I have posted here. Mostly because I have been busy dealing with work, but also because I have been busy dealing with a brain tumor. I am one of the lucky ones though. It wasn’t malignant, and here I am after surgery, still alive.

I had surgery about one month ago, and am taking my recovery one day at a time. I have taken time off of work, but it has certainly been on my mind. I’ll need to come back slowly but there has been a bit of a benefit to all of this. It is more natural now for me to focus on a single item instead of succumbing to the desire to multitask because my brain simply demands it.

I don’t see this as a problem though. I know that if I needed to, I could still deal with a dozen things at once, but I see this as a new beginning; an opportunity to really truly embrace the idea of Less Is More. If not now, when?

I won’t be getting back to work for another month or so. For now, I am focused on the basics of recovering from a difficult brain surgery. But stay posted as I begin my journey back into the workforce, with a newfound passion for simplifying and improving my work practices.

At the intersection of multi and potentialite.

As a child, I never felt limited in what I could be when I grew up. I never felt like I had to choose, but I also never felt like I had one true calling. And because of that, I often felt like there was something wrong with me, or that I was somehow lacking focus.

Not so, says Emilie Wapnick in her TED Talk, Why some of us don’t have one true calling.

“It’s easy to see your multipotentiality as a limitation or an affliction that you need to overcome. [But] There’s nothing wrong with you. What you are is a multipotentialite.

She reminds people like me — people who have many interests and creative pursuits, people with an eclectic mix of skills and experiences — that we should embrace our many passions, explore our intersections, and follow our curiosity down those rabbit holes. Wapnick also happens to mention a few superpowers that she believes multipotentialites have to offer the world: idea synthesis, rapid learning, and adaptibility.

Wapnik goes on to note that some of the best teams are comprised of a specialist and multipotentialite paired together.

The specialist can dive in deep and implement ideas, while the multipotentialite brings a breadth of knowledge to the project. It’s a beautiful partnership.”

In the same way an extrovert can complement an introvert, it’s all about balance, awareness, simplicity, and mindfulness. Think you might be a multipotentialite? Head over to Emilie Wapnick’s website to read her follow-up blog post, 3 Things I Didn’t Have Time to Say in My TED Talk.

Read. Read. Repeat.

AlanTuringQuote

Whether it was a program’s auto-correct or an online service like Grammarly, almost everyone has been saved from an embarrassing mistake once or twice thanks to digital proofreaders. But many people seem to have forgotten that proofreading is not the same as editing.

Proofreaders can improve the technical elements of your prose, but offer no help at all when it comes to the art of writing. They are not a shortcut to good writing; just another tool in your toolbox.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a short email, a 500-word blog post, or a novel. The same advice applies. Read your work. Read it slowly. And then read it again.

Read. Read. Repeat. It really is that simple.

All hat and no cattle.

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Are you delivering on your promises, or are you “all hat and no cattle?”

You’ve got their attention, but you won’t hold it for long without a strong foundation, solid business ethics, and awesome customer service.

There are a myriad of ways to say it… All shot and no powder. All sizzle and no steak. All wax and no wick. All mouth and no trousers.

But whether you’re talking about logo design, social media, or ad copy, the message is the same. Successful marketing requires a balance of both style and substance. You can’t rely on looks alone.

 

 

 

New year, new unitasker.

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Photo by ollyy (Shutterstock)

I never bother with New Year’s resolutions. However, I am a fan of self-improvement — especially through the act of incorporating subtle but effective changes such as with the practice of kaizen. I’m always searching for small ways to improve, and one simple way I am doing this is by letting go of my urge to multitask, and retraining my brain to become a laser-focused unitasker… or at least a little less scattered.

It’s no secret that master multitaskers are looked on in admiration by many. But much like with that badge of honor bestowed on overloaded professionals in today’s culture of busy, the correlation between our level of multitasking and our level of productivity may not be what you think.

Multitasking can make us feel like we’re being oh so efficient and getting so much done, but the truth of the matter is we’re deluding ourselves. In fact, several studies done in the last decade show that people who multitask are as much as 40% less productive, more easily distracted, and make more mistakes. Chronic multitaskers may even be permanently impairing their brain’s executive mental function.

But how do we quit multitasking when it makes us feel so fulfilled, so capable? Luckily, I’m not alone in my desire to regain control of my thoughts and attention. Founder and chief executive officer of THRUUE Daniel Patrick Forrester recently posited that when you stop multitasking, you “reimagine your relationship with thinking [and] allow room for your ideas to surface.” Indeed, I have found that just one small change has already helped me to become more mindful and less stressed, all while giving my creativity and productivity a slight but noticeable boost.

Research  shows that stress is significantly lowered by checking email only a few times each day. Plus, when constantly bombarded with messages from emails and phone calls to instant messages and notifications, people quickly lose focus as they begin switching their brain functions from one task to another.

To get started on my path towards a more zen workday, I made one simple change — the way I monitor my email. Instead of keeping a running tab on all those new messages, I set aside a block of time every couple of hours and spend that time doing only one thing — checking my emails.

It’s simple, but it’s true. Do less, and you’ll accomplish more. Next on my uni-task list? Take Forrester’s advice to remove “multitasking” from the skills section of my résumé, and replace it with “single-tasking thinker and leader.”